Malaria Mosquitoes Can Get the Job Done When Missing Five Legs

May 23rd, 2017

If you are a malaria mosquito, and worry about insecticides that might cause you to lose one, two, three, four, or five of your six legs would also cause you to miss a meal of human blood… well, maybe you can ease up, a bit, on that particular worry. That’s what this new study suggests, when viewed from the perspective of an Anopheles gambiae mosquito:

Insecticide-induced leg loss does not eliminate biting and reproduction in Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes,” Alison T. Isaacs [pictured here], Amy Lynd, and Martin J. Donnelly, Scientific Reports, vol. 7, 2017.  The authors, at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, report:

“Recent successes in malaria control have been largely attributable to the deployment of insecticide-based vector control tools such as bed nets and indoor residual spraying. Pyrethroid-treated bed nets are acutely neurotoxic to mosquitoes, inducing symptoms such as loss of coordination, paralysis, and violent spasms. One result of pyrethroid exposure often seen in laboratory tests is mosquito leg loss, a condition that has thus far been assumed to equate to mortality, as females are not expected to blood feed. However, whilst limb loss is unlikely to be adaptive, females with missing limbs may play a role in the propagation of both their species and pathogens. To test the hypothesis that leg loss inhibits mosquitoes from biting and reproducing, mosquitoes with one, two, or six legs were evaluated for their success in feeding upon a human.

“These experiments demonstrated that insecticide-induced leg loss had no significant effect upon blood feeding or egg laying success. We conclude that studies of pyrethroid efficacy should not discount mosquitoes that survive insecticide exposure with fewer than six legs, as they may still be capable of biting humans, reproducing, and contributing to malaria transmission.”

(Thanks to Tony Tweedale for bringing this to our attention.)

Nose-Raising, Nose-Lengthening and Grimacing (facial actions study)

May 22nd, 2017

Researcher Paul Zeichner (artist, illustrator and educator) adds to the literature regarding the documented lists of human facial actions, with the observation that “Seldom-mentioned facial movements referred to here as nose-lengthening and grimacing should also be recognized in related patterns of expression.”

See: Nose-Raising, Nose-Lengthening and Grimacing : Expressions of Arousal, Vigilance, Confusion, Aversion and Aggression


Can eating hot and spicy food lead to heated debates? (new study)

May 18th, 2017

“Imagine that you have an upcoming meeting with a confrontational colleague. You need to be at your aggressive best in order to not be run over during the meeting. What type of food do you think would help you best prepare for this meeting?

a. Hot & spicy food

b. Neither hot & spicy, nor bland & mild food

c. Bland & mild food”

This is a question* posed by Professor Rishtee K. Batra, and Professor Tanuka Ghoshal of the Department of Marketing, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India, along with Professor Rajagopal Raghunathan of the Department of Marketing, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, US, in a new paper for the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 71, July 2017, Pages 42–48. It’s entitled: ‘You are what you eat: An empirical investigation of the relationship between spicy food and aggressive cognition’

A series of three experimental studies revealed (amongst other things) that :

“ – the link between spicy food and aggressive cognition appears quite robust.“

The findings, say the team, suggest some interesting questions that could be explored in future research :

“ – such as, whether the incidents of altercations or heated debates is greater in countries or households that consume spicier (vs. less spicy) food. In a related vein, it would be interesting to explore whether customers more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors (e.g., lodge complaints, spread negative word of mouth, or offer lower tips) in contexts (e.g., restaurants), that serve more (vs. less) spicy food. Interesting implications emerge for regulating children’s behaviors too. Parents could presumably find it easier to discipline children by lowering the spiciness of their food. Likewise, teachers may find it easier to regulate students’ behaviors by controlling the levels of spice served in the cafeterias.”

A full copy of the paper may be found here.

ɐ) : ɹǝʍsu∀*

No Baby Boom Following Fifty Shades of Grey

May 16th, 2017

Anticipation caused by the book Fifty Shades of Grey (and its sequels) may have led to disappointment, suggests this new medical report:

No baby booms or birth sex ratio changes following Fifty Shades of Grey in the United States,” Victor Grech, Early Human Development, vol. 110, July 2017, pp. 16-20. The author, at Mater Dei Hospital, Malta, reports:

“The Fifty Shades of Grey (FSOG) trilogy were publicised by the media as inflaming increased coital activity, and that this would result a baby boom. Furthermore, increased coital activity skews the sex ratio at birth (M/T) toward male births. This study was carried out in order to ascertain whether there were any spikes in total births or in M/T in the United States (US) circa nine months following the FSOG books.”

Grech obtained and interpreted a large amount of childbirth data:

“Monthly male and female births for the US were obtained directly from the website of the Centre for Disease Control (01/2007–12/2015). This study analysed 36,499,163 live births (M/T 0.5117, 95% CI 0.5116–0.5119). There are no discernible spikes in total births or M/T at annual level, or circa nine months after FSOG book releases i.e. 04/2012 and 01/2013….”

Grech draws a conclusion:

“This study highlights the importance of measurement of cause and effect since anticipated results may not always ensue from events.”

(Thanks to Gwinyai Masukume for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: Victor Grech is also known for his study “Infertility in Star Trek.”

The Logic of Absurdity – and the puzzle of leadership irrelevance

May 15th, 2017

“Leaders are often thought to be instrumental to the performance of the organizations they lead. However, considerable research suggests that their influence over organizational performance might actually be minimal. These claims of leader irrelevance pose a puzzle: If leaders are relatively insignificant, why would someone commit to leading?”

Taking steps towards explaining the puzzle, Daniel Newark (Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources at HEC [‘Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales’] Paris, France) introduces the idea of the ‘Logic of Absurdity’ in a new paper for the Academy of Management Review. The ‘Logic of Absurdity’ is, in essence :

“- a decision-making process that can sustain devoted leadership when leaders’ import is negligible. By acknowledging expected insignificance and meeting it with unmerited dedication, absurd leaders maintain their astuteness while tapping into the resilience and freedom of rationally unjustified choice. “

viz. by way of a summary of the current state of affairs :

“Scholars disagree about the fundamental influence and import of leaders. Some claim that their significance is sizable. And an abundance of books, articles, talks, and courses about leadership bolsters this view. Others claim that leaders hardly matter, deeming academics and quasi-academics who say otherwise peddlers of modern day alchemy, proffering fool’s gold to the organizational monarchy and all who wish to be crowned. And still others call for nuance and contingency, responding with a qualified, ‘it depends’.”

See: Leadership and the Logic of Absurdity in Academy of Management Review, pre-print online February 2, 2017

Bonus assignment [optional] : Working on the assumption that leaders can’t exist without followers, is the implication that followers also obey the Logic of Absurdity?

Also see : The Mathematics of Mediocracy